Indulge your sweet tooth with mouthwatering Canadian Butter Tarts. This recipe has a perfect balance of gooey, buttery filling encased in a flaky pastry shell that defines this iconic Canadian treat.
If you have been following me since I owned Andrea's Gerrard St. Bakery, you will be especially excited for this recipe. I've created a home version of my "Best in Toronto" butter tarts!
This easy-to-follow recipe will help you master the art of creating irresistible butter tarts. Maple infused butter tarts are a treat that are sure to satisfy your cravings and elevate your baking skills!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Easy-to-Follow Recipe: Butter tarts can be challenging but with this easy to follow recipe you will be a pro in no time!
Versatile: Customize your tarts by adding nuts, raisins, currants or even chocolate chips! If you are nervous about making your own pastry you can pick up pre-made tart shells at the grocery store and make your own filling.
Freezing is a Breeze: You can freeze the pastry and filling individually or the finished tarts. Just defrost on the counter overnight and they are ready to serve.
🥘Ingredients and Substitutions
Pastry: If you want to skip making your own pastry simply purchase pre-made tart shells in the freezer section of the grocery store.
Maple Syrup: Pure maple syrup gives these butter tarts a unique Canadian flare. If pure maple syrup isn't available you can substitute with artificial or with granulated sugar and ½ a teaspoon of maple extract. You can also leave out the maple flavour altogether by substituting with granulated sugar.
Cream: I used half and half cream but any percentage of fat cream can be used.
Nutmeg: This spice adds a unique flavour and was a spice my grandmother always used in her butter tarts. Feel free to leave it out if you're not a fan or don't have any available.
For a complete list of ingredients see the recipe card below.
You can make these Canadian Butter Tarts unique by adding in different ingredients such as:
Nuts: Chopped walnuts or pecans are classic options for butter tarts. If you love pecan pie you will love pecans in your butter tarts!
Raisins: Many claim that they aren't real butter tarts if they don't have raisins. Adding a few raisins adds extra sweet explosions to the filling.
Currants: Dried currants add a lovely sour pop to the sweet, buttery filling.
Chocolate Chips: Add some chocolatey goodness with dark chocolate chips or chunks. Or melt some chocolate and drizzle over top for a fancier look.
Bourbon or Whisky: Elevate the adult-friendly version by adding a splash of bourbon or whiskey to the filling for a sophisticated flavor profile.
Bacon Bits: Make them trendy with salty bacon bits. You won't be disappointed!
🔪How to Make Canadian Butter Tarts
Step 1 - In a food processor pulse together the flour, sugar, salt and cubed butter until it has a crumbly texture.
Step 2 - Stop the machine and add egg and cold water. Pulse again until the dough comes together to form a ball. This will take more time than you expect.
Step 3 - Shape the dough into a flat disk, wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 3 days.
Step 4 - Meanwhile make the filling. Place butter, sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg and salt in a pot. Over medium heat, cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Step 5 - Remove from heat and let cool while you roll the pastry. Once cooled slowly whisk sugar mixture into egg mixture. Put the filling into a container you can easily pour from.
Step 6 - Roll the pastry to about ⅛ of an inch thick. Cut 12 four-inch circles. Reserve the leftover dough to patch any holes.
Step 7 - Form the tart shells into the muffin tins making sure they are pressed into the corners. Repair any holes with the leftover dough.
Step 8 - If using any nuts or raisins, place a few in the bottom of the tart shells. Divide the filling evenly amongst the 12 tarts. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until filling is set and pastry is golden.
For detailed instructions see the recipe card below.
Don't overmix the pastry: Mix the dough until it just comes together. Overmixing can cause the pastry to become tough. However, when using a food processor it will take more pulses than you would expect. Just keep going until it forms a ball.
Patch holes: If you end up with small tears or holes in your tart shells use the leftover dough to patch them up. Do a careful inspection for cracks as they can cause the filling to seep out which will cause them to stick in the pans.
Avoid Overfilling: Fill the tart shells to about ¼-inch below the rim to prevent overflowing.
Adjust Baking Time: Keep a close eye on the butter tarts as they bake. Adjust the baking time if needed, as ovens may vary. The goal is to have a golden-brown crust and a set filling.
Yes butter tarts freeze perfectly. Let them cool completely before removing from the pans. Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature and enjoy!
To make by hand; use your fingers or a pastry blender to blend in the butter until it is a crumbly texture. Add the liquid and stir with a spoon or use your hands to mix until it comes together into a ball. Alternatively you can use a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment. Just be sure not to overmix it following the same steps as the food processor method.
This helps give the pastry a quick boost of heat to help prevent shrinking and to encourage browning. Maintaining a higher temperature could overbake the filling.
Traditional butter tarts do not contain maple syrup. Traditionally butter tarts are made with corn syrup. Maple syrup not only adds a delicious flavour but is also a natural sweetener as opposed to corn syrup.
More Dessert Recipes
Canadian Butter Tarts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- ¾ cup semi-cold salted butter*, cubed
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ cup salted butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cream, 10% mf. or higher
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Walnuts pieces
- Pecans pieces
For the pastry:
- Place flour, sugar, cubed butter, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until the ingredients reach a crumbly texture. With the machine off, add eggs and water; continue pulsing until everything forms a ball (this might take longer than expected but keep going!) Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface, shape it into a flat disk with your hands, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. *butter should be between fridge and room temperature. Cut into cubes and leave at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon white sugar, ¾ cup semi-cold salted butter*, cubed, ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon water
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray, and set aside.
For the filling:
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, melt salted butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg, and salt; stir occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk together cream, eggs, and vanilla. Remove the sugar mixture from heat and let it cool while you roll out the pastry. Once cooled (it can still be warm), slowly whisk the sugar mixture into the egg mixture.½ cup salted butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, ½ cup maple syrup, ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup cream, 10% mf. or higher, 2 eggs, ½ teaspoon vanilla
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to ⅛ inch thickness, cut 12 four-inch circles, and reserve extra dough for patching. Gently push the circles into greased muffin tins, making a pleat in one or two spots and pushing into the bottom corners to ensure the pastry fully forms into the cups. If there are any small cracks or tears, patch them with a small piece of leftover dough. Freeze for 15 minutes.
- If using nuts or raisins, add a few pieces to the bottom of the tart shells before adding the filling. Divide the filling between the 12 pastry shells.
- Place in a 400-degree F oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes; the filling should be set, and the pastry golden.
- Let the tarts cool before removing them from the pan. Carefully lift the tarts out of the pan using a small palette knife or a knife with a blunt tip.